Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Defense Of The Cup Begins Tomorrow

The Rapids start the playoffs tomorrow night at the Dick against the Columbus Crew. 4 games in the next 11 days separate them from another trip to MLS Cup. Tomorrow night its simple, win or go home. There will be 30 minutes and, if necessary, PK's to decide a winner. Of course last year when Colorado started their run to MLS Cup they did it by beating the Crew in the first round. Kickoff tomorrow is at 8pm, so the tailgate starts at 6, regardless of how cold it is. Those of you that can't make it can watch on Altitude in Colorado, or streaming on elsewhere.

Injury Report:
OUT: FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear); Anthony Wallace (R knee arthroscopic surgery)
QUESTIONABLE: Pablo Mastroeni (concussion)
PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); MF Jamie Smith (R hamstring strain / R calf strain)

Columbus has two questionable players and one player suspended, so both teams are pretty close to equal strength. Given that its win or go home, there shouldn't be any reason to hold anyone back who can go. My guess at the starting XI:

Kimura - Wynne - Moor - Comminges
Mullan - Nane - Larentowicz - Smith
Cummings - Nyassi

Recent articles make it sound very unlikely that Pablo will be cleared from his concussion and able to play. That's a big loss for the team that Nane (or possibly Thompson) will have to step up and make up for. Otherwise I expect our normal second-half starting XI to start.

Key To Look For: How do Ginger and Nane/Thompson hold the midfield. If the Rapids can hold the ball in midfield they can make Columbus work at altitude on short rest. If they can't we'll see Colorado revert to long ball again.

Prediction: 1-0 win, goal by Moor. I think the cold weather, short rest, and the natural conservative play of a knockout game will keep this low scoring. Eventually Columbus will wear down with the altitude and additional travel and start giving up free kicks and corner kicks. Moor will convert one of them for the winner.

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